Alice Guy-Blaché was the head of production for the Gaumont company from 1897 to 1907. If she was not the first movie director, she was one of the first.
She directed hundreds of movies, ranging from actualities and one of the many serpentine dances recorded by different companies in 1897, to single-scene comic bits and vaudeville turns, to 1905 sound-on-disc Chronophones to a 1906 33 minute life of Christ, to developed dramatic stories. Alice Guy married Herbert Blaché and moved to America, where she directed for Gaumont, then started her own company, Solax.
The first disc of the Gaumont Treasures set features the films of Alice Guy-Blaché.
Alice Guy-Blaché stopped directing in 1919. She divorced Herbert in 1922 and returned to France.
She returned to the US in 1964 to live with her daughter. She died in New Jersey.
Ten years after she died, I heard and read her name in an introduction to film class, but there was very little information about her and we didn't see any of her movies. Over the last twenty years or so, scholars and archivists have dug up much more information about her.
|Motion Picture News, 29-January-1916|
|Moving Picture World, 28-March-1914|